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Reforming Ottoman Governance


Success, Failure and the Path to Decline


The book is the history of reform attempts in the Ottoman Empire and the internal and external difficulties in implementing them. Imperialist aggression towards the Empire and bloody janissary revolts hampered the reforms, and although some successes in governance were achieved, there were many failures, and these contributed to the demise of the Empire at the end of the First World War.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0236-1
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 11,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 185
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0236-1
$169.00
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The book is the history of reform attempts in the Ottoman Empire and the internal and external difficulties in implementing them. Imperialist aggression towards the Empire and bloody janissary revolts hampered the reforms, and although some successes in governance were achieved, there were many failures, and these contributed to the demise of the Empire at the end of the First World War.


Reforms began in 1718 during the period known as the Tulip Era, which ended in 1730 with a bloody janissary uprising. Sultan Selim III, who reigned from 1789 to 1807, then tried to engage with domestic and military reform. His reform efforts conflicted with the interests of both the janissaries and the religious leaders and made the sultan a victim of another janissary uprising. Mahmud II, successor to Selim III, strove to change the paradigm of governance with his personal administration. His most daring action was the eradication of the unruly janissary organisation.


The concept of a constitutional monarchy penetrated the Empire, first in the form of Tanzimat in 1839, and subsequently with the issuance of a constitution in 1876. The sultan of the time, Abdülhamid II, became convinced that he could run the Empire alone and suspended the constitution. He was dethroned by a military coup in 1909. The janissaries had disappeared from the Empire, but their mentality had not. A new constitution was declared by amateur politicians and military officers, members of a revolutionary committee known as 'Union and Progress', also known in the West as the 'Young Turks'. They were well intentioned, but faced two disastrous wars, one in Libya, the other in the Balkans. Their administration quickly degenerated into a dictatorship and they had hardly enough time to carry out any meaningful reforms. In 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War together with Germany, the death knell of an empire that had lasted seven hundred years.


Front cover: The Enthronement of Selim III, 1789, by Konstantin Kapidagli Jülüs.

The book is the history of reform attempts in the Ottoman Empire and the internal and external difficulties in implementing them. Imperialist aggression towards the Empire and bloody janissary revolts hampered the reforms, and although some successes in governance were achieved, there were many failures, and these contributed to the demise of the Empire at the end of the First World War.


Reforms began in 1718 during the period known as the Tulip Era, which ended in 1730 with a bloody janissary uprising. Sultan Selim III, who reigned from 1789 to 1807, then tried to engage with domestic and military reform. His reform efforts conflicted with the interests of both the janissaries and the religious leaders and made the sultan a victim of another janissary uprising. Mahmud II, successor to Selim III, strove to change the paradigm of governance with his personal administration. His most daring action was the eradication of the unruly janissary organisation.


The concept of a constitutional monarchy penetrated the Empire, first in the form of Tanzimat in 1839, and subsequently with the issuance of a constitution in 1876. The sultan of the time, Abdülhamid II, became convinced that he could run the Empire alone and suspended the constitution. He was dethroned by a military coup in 1909. The janissaries had disappeared from the Empire, but their mentality had not. A new constitution was declared by amateur politicians and military officers, members of a revolutionary committee known as 'Union and Progress', also known in the West as the 'Young Turks'. They were well intentioned, but faced two disastrous wars, one in Libya, the other in the Balkans. Their administration quickly degenerated into a dictatorship and they had hardly enough time to carry out any meaningful reforms. In 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War together with Germany, the death knell of an empire that had lasted seven hundred years.


Front cover: The Enthronement of Selim III, 1789, by Konstantin Kapidagli Jülüs.

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Fuat Andic

Suphan Andic

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgments (page 7)
  • Chronology (Selim I-Mehmet VI) (page 9)
  • Note on Transcriptions (page 11)
  • Preface (page 13)
  • Introduction (page 15)
  • Governance and Reform Paradigm (page 21)
    • Transaction Costs and Property Rights (page 22)
    • The Principal-Agent Paradigm (page 23)
    • Predatory Finance (page 24)
  • Counsels Unheeded (page 27)
    • The letter of Asaph (Asafname) (page 27)
    • Counsel for Sultans (Nasihat-us-Selatin) (page 29)
    • The Book of Good Things (Kitab-i Mustetab) (page 32)
    • The Rule of Action for the Rectification of Defects (Dusturu'l-amel li islah'il-halel) (page 33)
    • The Treatise of Koci Bey (Risale-i Koci Bey) (page 35)
    • History of Naima (Naima Tarihi) (page 37)
    • Counsel for Viziers and Governors (Nasihat ul-vuzera ve'l-umera) (page 38)
    • Political Testament (Testament Politique) (page 40)
    • The Counsels in Context (page 42)
  • 1699-1718: Defeat and Decline (page 59)
    • The Treaty of Karlowitz (page 59)
    • The Treaty of Passarowitz (page 61)
  • The Tulip Era (page 65)
    • The Reforms of Ibrahim Pasha (page 65)
    • Renaissance or Debauchery? (page 75)
  • 1730-1789: Missed Opportunities (page 77)
  • Selim III (page 81)
  • 1807-1808: Janissaries Revolt (page 91)
  • Mahmud II (page 93)
    • Unending Wars (page 97)
    • Eradication of the Janissary Order (page 102)
    • Reorganization of the Civil Administration (page 105)
    • Education and New Schools (page 108)
    • The Path to Westernization (page 109)
  • The Reform Edict (page 111)
  • The Crimean War and the Concert of Europe (page 119)
    • The Imperial Reform Edict of 1856 (page 124)
  • 1861-1876: La Belle Epoque (page 131)
  • Tanzimat and the Legacy of Ali Pasha (page 135)
    • Memorandum from Crete (page 136)
    • The Political Testament (page 138)
  • Abdulhamid II (page 147)
  • 1908-1918: The Demise of the Empire (page 155)
    • The Second Constitution (page 155)
    • Wars (page 158)
    • Modernization and Reforms (page 160)
  • Epilogue (page 165)
  • Bibliography (page 171)
  • Glossary (page 181)
  • About the Authors (page 185)
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